THE Department of Basic Education said on Thursday it had delivered 99% of textbooks to schools in Limpopo, but it was concerned that some schools might not have received the books by the deadline of midnight on Wednesday.

The department presented a report to public-interest law centre Section27 - which had brought a court application against it last month - on Thursday on its delivery of books to learners in Grades 1, 2, 3 and 10 who had been without textbooks since the start of the year.

Section27 and the department agreed that an independent organisation be appointed to do an audit of the delivery programme before next Friday, after reports that books might not have reached all schools.

On May 17, Judge Jody Kollapen held that the failure by the Department of Basic Education and the Limpopo department of education to provide textbooks for learners in four grades for almost half of the academic year was a violation of the constitutional right to a basic education.

He ordered that textbooks be delivered to all schools by no later than June 15 2012, and that a catch-up plan be formulated to identify gaps in curricula and the extent to which the quality of teaching and learning had been prejudiced by the lack of textbooks. It also had to include measures to address these problems and be concluded by the end of this academic year.

Section27 met the department after the first deadline expired, and it was decided that delivery of the textbooks had to be completed by Wednesday.

According to the Department of Basic Education, the catch-up plan will involve a winter programme for Grade 12 pupils and Saturday classes. Other grades will have their own plans, depending on which textbooks they did not receive.

Earlier on Thursday, Mathanzima Mweli, acting deputy director-general in the Department of Basic Education, said an element of "sabotage" from suppliers and principals had hindered the department's delivery of textbooks to schools.

Mr Mweli said principals and school managers in some areas had been unavailable to sign for orders on Wednesday.

Eight central warehouses were cleared of books, he said, but at the remaining warehouse in Thohoyandou, the distributors did not arrive to collect the books.

The national department took over the running of Limpopo's education department in December following severe maladministration.

Earlier, the South African Principals' Association said not all schools had received their textbooks by Thursday.

"What do they mean they met their deadline? Even if one school didn't receive textbooks it is one too many," said Ngoako Rapaledi, deputy president of the association. "I am on my way to a school where they have to still deliver textbooks. That same truck has more deliveries to do for this morning."

The Democratic Alliance in Limpopo was also monitoring deliveries.

"I can say with 100% certainty that the department didn't meet its deadline," DA education spokeswoman Desiree van der Walt said. "Many teachers waited till late last night and previous nights, in unsafe conditions, for textbooks to be delivered, and they were not delivered. Late Wednesday night, there were still warehouses with pallets of thousands of textbooks that needed to be delivered."

South African Democratic Teachers' Union provincial secretary Matome Raphasha said intervention was needed in the textbook crisis. "We have seen more problems than solutions," he said.

With Sapa

mabuzae@bdfm.co.za